BRADENTON -- Democrat Terri Wonder of Bradenton announced Thursday she is challenging incumbent GOP Commissioner Carol Whitmore in next year's Manatee County Commission election.
Wonder is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Whitmore in the November 2014 race for an at-large seat.
"I'm running because I think that Manatee County needs to become a leader in the state in stemming the tide of overdevelopment of the coastline and urban sprawl in the interior of our county," said Wonder.
Wonder, 47, a prominent critic of the proposed Long Bar Pointe development on Sarasota Bay, grew up in Sarasota and has lived most of her adult life in Manatee County, she said.
Whitmore, who already has announced she is running for re-election, has held the at-large District 6 seat on Manatee County Commission since 2006. She also is a former city commissioner and mayor of the city of Holmes Beach.
When told of her competitor, Whitmore said: "Good. You know, I look to running a professional and civil race with her. I'm looking forward to it. Competition is always good."
Wonder was a key organizer helping to rally opposition to Long Bar Pointe development plans. In August, about 1,000 residents attended a commission meeting, most opposing the original development concept.
Whitmore voted in favor of a Manatee County Comprehensive Plan map amendment for the project, but only after developers agreed to drop plans for a marina and a new channel critics said would damage mangroves along the shore.
Wonder has recently worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as a field researcher, statistician and cultural analyst, according to a press release.
She served in Iraq and in other places, receiving a U.S. Army Superior Civilian Service Award in 2010, it said.
She completed a Ph.D. at the University of South Florida, and holds a master's of arts degree from the University of West Florida, it said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.